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Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz. Illustrated.
Keston, Kent, UK, United Publications, June 2017, hardcover, $22.95 (unpaged [148 pages]).

This large (8½” x 11”) collection presents the last half – the last ten years — of Eric Schwartz’s Internet Sabrina Online comic strip: four strips per page from November 2006 (annual collection 11) through the end of the annual collections with #14, and the following individual strips through the end of December (Xmas) 2016. “835 strips in 20 years? I guess it’ll have to do.” But wait! There’s more! The last 24 pages of this book are Schwartz’s history of Sabrina Online, gag strips of Sabrina’s Transformer toys, and some of the better art tributes by Sabrina’s fans like gNAW, Steve Gallacci, Shawntae Howard, Max Black Rabbit, and Brian Reynolds.

Schwartz explains in his “Brief History” that he began Sabrina Online in September 1996, after becoming a Big Name Fan in furry fandom thanks to his animation short films produced on his primitive Amiga computer (done partly just to prove that he could create animation on an Amiga). This is where his first popular character, Amy the Squirrel, appeared. He had ideas for a more detailed, continuing storyline featuring Amy and her best friend and roommate, Sabrina the Skunk, so Sabrina Online was born. It was a monthly comic strip in an unusual presentation; all four weeks online together on the first of the month. It was basically a comedic slice-of-life rambling story about Amy and Sabrina. Amy gets married to Thomas Woolfe and has a son, but Sabrina remains sharing her and Thomas’ apartment; Sabrina gets a secretarial job with Zig Zag, a producer of adult entertainment; Sabrina develops a long-term relation with her boyfriend, R.C. (a raccoon), and eventually moves in with him; and finally Sabrina and R.C. get married. Sub-themes and characters include Sabrina’s parents, R.C.’s parents, Sabrina’s collection of Transformers toys (which are often anthropomorphized), Zig Zag, an extroverted zebra-striped skunk (a tiger-skunk hybrid – Schwartz doesn’t have any trouble with interspecies romances and hybrid children), Amy’s infant son Timmy who Sabrina often babysits and Sabrina’s little sister Tabitha, Thomas’ workmates, R.C.’s workmates … lots!

“I created the Sabrina Online comic strip to tell the story ideas I had built up. These were used up after the first few years.” After that he continued the strip on a day-to-day basis for a long time. “That was when I noticed that the twentieth anniversary of the first Sabrina Online comic strip from 1996 was on its way, and looked into the prospect of finishing the strip. Suddenly I had a definite purpose and goal again.” Unfinished story ideas were finished; floating story lines were tied up; and Sabrina Online was brought to a final conclusion with Sabrina and R.C. (Richard Conrad) getting married.

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Fred Patten Interviews Rich Hanes – Author of Foxhunt!

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Back in April 2017, I reviewed Foxhunt! by Rich Hanes, a 2009 337-page science-fiction novel set in a largely-anthropomorphic “Wildstar Universe”. Foxhunt! is primarily about an interstellar nation of anthropomorphic foxes, but it refers to many other species. I was very favorably impressed by it, ending my review saying, Foxhunt! is superior both as space opera and as furry fiction. Don’t miss it!”

Rich Hanes, the author, e-mailed me to thank me for my review. I took the opportunity to ask him about Foxhunt! and his Wildstar Universe; how he came to write the novel in 2009 and why he hasn’t followed it with more Wildstar Universe stories. This has led to this interview, for anyone who is interested in anthro fox Captain Sebastian Valentino’s adventures in Foxhunt!; in Hanes’ larger Wildstar Universe; and in Rich Hanes himself.

FP: Let’s start with some basic information; date of birth, when & why you started writing, and so on.

RH: My name is Rich Hanes, which is my real name. I’m 32, born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, earned a degree in Computer Drafting from ITT Technical Institute in Canton, Michigan at the age of 23, then moved to Seattle to work for Boeing on the 787 Dreamliner for 6 years until being laid off. Now I live back with my parents in Detroit while searching for adequate employment, and earn money right now through writing and my YouTube channel,  L-1011 Widebody

FP: Your email address is richard.harlan.hanes, which I assume is your full name. How long has your YouTube channel been going? Is its main focus on your Wildstar Universe?

RH: No, it’s focused primarily on retro-gaming — a lot of it is doing Let’s Plays of games that I owned as a kid and still have the original CD for. But I do have two short videos there that I put together as an ‘introduction’ of sorts to my concept for Wildstar.  About 7 minutes in total. Perhaps that will help answer some basic questions, or if you want to link to the actual videos.

FP: Since this interview is mostly about your Foxhunt! and its whole Wildstar Universe, why don’t you tell us how you came to develop its galactic civilization and the Star Nation of anthro foxes?

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Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, August 2017, trade paperback, $12.99 (178 pages).

Always Gray in Winter is one of those novels that is deliberately mysterious at first, and only gradually reveals what is going on. To avoid my own spoiler, here is the blurb on the author’s website:

“The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats is torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically-enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return [to] their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice:  preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.”

Pawly is Pawlina J. Katczynski, a mid-twenties Polish-American in love with Lennart “Lenny” Reintz, a mid-twenties German-American U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security specialist. However, Pawly has become a were-lynx vigilante superhero in combat against Mawro, another werecat who uses his shapeshifting powers for sinister and unethical purposes: he is the leader and head scientist of the North Korean “ailuranthropic” R&D program. Here is Pawly, in text and also an illustration by Amy Sun Hee “inspired by the novel”, on the author’s website:

“Her fangs bit into the fur below her lower lip. Pawly fell forward and thrust out her legs against the railing. Claws sprouted forth from the tips of her fingers with a flick of each wrist. She dove toward the car and yowled to goad the driver into turning her way. Her claws sank into the skin above the bridge of his nose as she slid across the car’s hood on her butt. With a grunt she yanked her hand free, tearing both of the man’s eyes free from their sockets. He screamed and crumpled to the pavement, cradling his ruined face, weapon all but forgotten. His partner whirled around with his shotgun in one hand, leaving his chest wide open. Before reaching the wall, Pawly raked the toe claws on both feet across the man’s abdomen. She pushed off with her legs and landed past the front bumper. When she spun around, the wide-eyed man stood before her, trembling as he stuffed his entrails back inside him with both hands. Pawly responded to his horrified whimper with but a shrug before he collapsed.” (p. 7)

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Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback $1.95 (249 pages), e-book $12.95.

This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)

This is the sequel and conclusion to Legacy: Dawn, reviewed here last August and set in Rukis’ Red Lantern world. Rukis has said on e621, “Legacy is a story set in the Red Lantern world, and takes place roughly 20 years before the events of Red Lantern. You do not need to follow Red Lantern to understand this story, it can be read entirely independently, but if you follow the series, it will certainly enrich the world for you.”

But you do need to know Legacy: Dawn. This begins right after. Right after. Rukis serialized the complete Legacy online on Patreon, and you can’t help suspecting the two halves are meant to be republished as a single book someday soon. You should certainly read the review of Legacy: Dawn first and then this one together. That ends “Legacy: Dawn is about Kadar’s and Ahsin’s struggle for the freedom to be together, in a society where both are treated as property that can be casually separated. It is also about Kadar’s confused instinct to be a dominant personality in a society where he is of low caste, and those of higher caste do not hesitate to punish those below them who get ‘uppity’.” That’s more recapitulation than you will get in Legacy: Dusk.

Kadar (the narrator), a golden jackal, and Ahsin, a hyena, are homosexual lovers and indentured servants – read “slaves” – together. They have escaped from a plantation of the powerful Sura Clan in the desert nation of Mataa, following a slave revolt. Mataa is ruled by hyenas, but homosexuality is socially forbidden; especially for them, since the lower-caste Kadar is the dominant and the upper-caste Ahsin is the subordinate in their relationship. They can expect to be brutally tortured and then slaughtered together if they are recaptured. They and a few other Sura escapees had been taken in by a pride of free lionesses on one of Mataa’s oases, but bands of pursuers from the Sura Clan have made it too dangerous to stay there:

“We parted ways with Dela five nights ago, and we’ve been wandering ever since. She’d given us enough provisions to last at least a week, more than enough to make it out of the dunes, if we wanted to. But each time we neared a watering hole or a small town on the outskirts, we dipped our toes only to retreat back into the desert soon after. The pinpricks of civilization around the desert’s edge were bristling with hyenas from merchant caravans and plantations selling their wares, and we’re not sure how known we are to each of the clans, but we know there are hunters looking for us, and that’s reason enough to be cautious.” (p. 11)

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Monster Island, Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar – Movie Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Monster Island. Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar, from a script by Billy Frolick & Alicia Núñez Puerto. Sony Home Pictures Entertainment, September 12, 2017, 80 minutes, direct-to-DVD, $14.99.

Distributed in the U.S. & Canada by Vision Films (Sherman Oaks, California). Produced by Ánima Estudios (México City).

Is Monster Island worth an article for DP? How can we ignore any movie with a character like Verónica, the pig-girl?

This 80-minute CGI animated movie premiered theatrically on July 21st in the U.K. It got devastating reviews. Newspaper The Guardian said the day before, “… it’s […] dispiriting to encounter this ploddingly mediocre knockoff, with its budget effects, utterly uninspired visual design and flatlining dialogue. […] The whole forgettable movie looks as if it has been generated by ageing software.” As if that wasn’t enough, The Guardian followed it up with an even worse review three days later. “There are few things more unpleasant to look at than bad animation. And Monster Island’s Technicolor yawn of regurgitated influences is monstrous in all the wrong ways. The eyeball-melting colour palette is just the tip of the tentacle – this is a cobbled-together, plotless mess […]” It got a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s just been released theatrically in South Korea (September 7th) and China (September 9th). We get it in the U.S. as a direct-to-DVD “family entertainment” (kids’ movie) release.

Lucas Frunk (voice of Philip Adrian Vasquez) is a stereotypical 13-year-old nerd at Brown Middle School. His best pal is also-nerdish Peter Kavinsky. They are both picked on by school bully Cameron (voice of Michael Robles) and made to do his science class experiments (the frog explodes). Lucas discovers the hard way at school social queen Melanie’s (Jenifer Beth Kaplan) Halloween dance that his “asthma inhaler” actually delivers a medicine that keeps him from turning into a towering orange ogre.

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Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl – book review by Fred Patten

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Seven Deadly Sins Cover

Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Joseph Chou.
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, January 2017, trade paperback $16.99 ([4 +] 411 pages).

The seven deadly sins are Lust, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Pride. This anthology presents 27 stories divided into those seven deadly sins. Each sin is introduced by an Interlude by Thurston Howl in which three punk youths, Derek (German shepherd), Zinc (tiger), and Barba (horse), tell stories about those sins in a ruined church. They suspect that one of them is a demon…

An advisory usually fits an entire book, but the stories in this anthology are so widespread from G to NSFW that I’ve put my own advisory on each story.

In “Don’t Judge Me” by Sisco Polaris (Lust), an unnamed human man goes to a mixed human-animal gym, steamhouse, and sauna that is a gay hookup spot. He spends an evening playing enthusiastic submissive slut to the male dom anthro-menagerie that passes through, to get into the mood to go home and do his sexual duty to his wife. Very NSFW.

“Down in the Valley” by Billy Leigh (Lust) is narrated by Ralph Walter Travers, a Fennec British civil servant posted in Kenya at the beginning of World War II. He is invited to a dinner party of upper-class Collies, Foxes, Cougars, and others that turns out to be a wildly degenerate orgy, with excesses of drink and sex. There is a death. The police investigate. To tell what happens would give away a spoiler. PG for the orgy and some mild gay romance in a British early-1940s setting.

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Foreign animated movies released direct-to-DVD in America – by Fred Patten

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Woody Woodpecker PosterAre you going to see Woody Woodpecker: The Movie? It’s coming out on October 5th.

In Brazil.

But it’s a Universal movie. Or at least Universal is distributing it there.

The American public may not have noticed it, but one of the cinematic trends of the 2010s has been the production or subsidizing by American movie companies of movies featuring their famous cartoon stars, for theatrical distribution worldwide by those companies – except in the U.S. We get them as direct-to-DVD children’s movies.

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The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press – book review by Fred Patten

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The kingdom of the Sun and Moon CoverThe Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press. Maps.

Bellevue, WA, Parkers Mill Publishing, September 2014, trade paperback $11.99 ([xv +] 297 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $0.99.

This Young Adult fantasy (winner of a 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award, for Teen Fiction (13-18 Years), of the Independent Book Publishers Association) is set in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, home of the Habsburg monarchs of Austria, about 1820. In those days almost all royal palaces had large populations of mice (so did the average citizens’ houses), so the 19th century map of the palace and its grounds is accurate as to the location of the fictional mouse Kingdom of the Double-Headed Eagle.

The König is a tyrant.

His subjects are starving.

And all-out war is fast approaching.

Will a pair of young, courageous

Brothers save their kingdom? (blurb)

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The Animal Guild Series – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Animal Guild Series

The Animal Guild, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 307 pages), Kindle $0.99.

Monsters in the Territory, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.99 ([5 +] 340 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Marrhob War, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.47 ([5 +] 320 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Nhorn, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 278 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Sowle’s Amazon “About the Author” says that she has been writing this Young Adult series since the age of 13. (Wikipedia says she was born in 1977.) Book 1 was published by CreateSpace on August 22, 2012, with this Second Edition on May 13, 2015. Book 2 was published on August 15, 2013 with this Second Edition on February 8, 2015. Book 3, March 6, 2014 and February 26, 2015. Book 4, June 8, 2014 and March 10, 2015. Book 5, January 26, 2015 and April 13, 2015. Further books are first editions.

What is the Animal Guild, and who is in it? The story is deliberately murky at the beginning:

“Corto dove between the mesquites and just missed the spiny cholla they cosseted under their branches. It was exactly how he’d cut his forepaw an hour ago and started the blood trail. Drok take every piece of cactus in this desert and chuck it over the white gates of Hell.

He didn’t continue the puerile curse because coyote scent wafted toward him again, stronger and closer. He hadn’t shaken his pursuers, attracted by the blood, and until he could hole up and stop the bleeding, he wouldn’t. The cairn terrier ran past the offensive cholla, which had been lurking in wait behind the mesquite, and wished again that he was a bit taller. […]” (The Animal Guild, p. 1)

In the opening pages the reader learns that Corto is a cairn terrier fleeing from coyotes through a desert. He is on a lone-dog mission, but he is resigned to being eaten by the pursuing coyotes, until he is unexpectedly saved by a fox. But wildies don’t associate with guilders like Corto, do they?

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The Student, Vol. 1, by Joe Sherman – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Student, vol. 1, by Joe Sherman
Covington, OH, Joe Sherman publishing, May 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 (284 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

Readers had better consider this to have a Sex Lovers Only rating.

The date is 2290, fifteen years after the Kaspersky foundation developed the first successful human-animal person. That was a dog-man they named Furton Kaspersky. This was almost unnoticed by the public because of the simultaneous announcement that humans had been accepted into the Galactic Trade Federation. But as soon as the excitement over that died down, there was plenty of social questioning and panic over letting “animal people” into society. However, by the 23rd century there was enough acceptance of the concept of intelligent non-humans that the anthropomorphic animals couldn’t be suppressed. A compromise was reached: to construct a domed city for the scientists and the hybrids where the research could be continued “in safety”, until the general public was convinced that the animal people were safe. The scientists ensured that the steel-&-glass-domed city, also dubbed Furton, would not become a slum. Furton was built twelve years ago.

Teenager Chris Tailor is the first human to be accepted into Furton University (although its professors are humans). Chris has always been fascinated by the hybrids, and he had been sending questions to the Kaspersky foundation via computer for a decade. The foundation had usually ignored him; but apparently someone has recently decided to let a human into the animal student body as a social experiment, and Chris’ pro-hybrid interest plus his genetics major has made him stand out. Chris is incredulous but delighted to be invited inside the domed city to become a student at Furton University.

This is described in the short Introduction and first chapter. Sherman has an unusual style of huge paragraphs with justified margins, but the reader quickly gets used to them. Here he meets one of the Kaspersky professors during a subway ride inside the dome to the University:

“‘I am Professor Meyers,” The scientist introduced himself as he studied the nervous young man. ‘You’re wearing generics. New to the city I presume?’ he observed in a gravelly voice. ‘I just got into the city less than an hour ago. I’m a new student at the University,’ Chris confirmed with a nod, grinning foolishly in his excitement. ‘Ah, I’m an instructor there myself. What is your major?’ Professor Meyers inquired as he brightened up slightly. ‘Genetics… I’ve been fascinated by the hybrids ever since I watched the news feed of their first creation. I’ve been looking forward to coming here for years to learn how they are created,’ Chris answered proudly. ‘Well then, I suppose I’ll see you in my class. Genetic engineering and hybrid biology are the courses of study, which are my responsibility,’ Professor Meyers announced once he recovered from the surprising answer. He lifted and cocked his head a bit as a tone sounded down the subway tunnel. After a moment, the recorded voice signaled the arrival of the next train. Well here we are. Do you know where you’re headed? I can show you to the dormitories once we arrive at the University, if you’d like,’ he offered.” (p. 14)

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